Sunday, March 22, 2015

6 Steps in Defining Your Business Goals

by Geraud Staton

Defining ones business goals seems that it would be as straightforward as deciding what you want out of your business and, if you're feeling inspired, posting those goals somewhere that you can see them on a regular basis. 

Unfortunately, deciding on your desired outcomes isn't just about picking a lofty goal and going for it. You also need to make sure the goal you're hoping to attain fits in with your company values. 

At Helius, we use 6 steps that help us in goal setting and determining how a goal will affect us and our customers. We do this with every major decision, ranging from internal growth issues to helping our clients in furthering their own agendas.

1. What do you want?
This is to be stated in the positive. We all know what we don't want, but concentrating on that is said to the main reason goals fail. Mary Lore discusses this in-depth on her website "Managing Thought." 

As Mary herself said, "When we are focused on what we don't want, that is all we see, and our ideas and decisions are based on what we don't want. When we know what we want, we give ourselves the ability to imagine new possibilities and generate ideas on how to be and what to do or say in each moment to make it a reality."

State your desired outcome in a positive statement and then be sure all your decisions lead you toward that specific goal, not running away from something you don't want.

2. How will you know when you've succeeded?
Sometimes our goals can be nebulous at best. Defining what you want, as stated above, may be difficult for some people. Even more difficult is knowing when you've hit your mark. If you can't count it, it becomes infinitely harder to hit your goal. Having a goal to "improve customer relations" is admirable, but what does that mean? Is it getting one person to leave a positive comment on your company Facebook page? That fits the description, doesn't it? But, I doubt that's what you're going for. 

These are sometimes called metrics or key performance indicators. If you want to acquire a strong customer base, define what that means so that you can track it. Is it nine new customers per month? One hundred new users? Do you want to make $20,000 in revenue this month, or increase productivity by 10%? You need to know. 

"There's no point in driving all night to get to a particular location if you have no idea when get there!"

3. What resources do I have?
Your list of resources is just a list of tools that you have at your disposal that will help you reach your goal. These resources take many forms. People are the most obvious. Who are the people that are available to help you, including employees, partners, and mentors? Write them down and be sure to utilize them as often as you can. You also have physical tools that will likely help you. Make a note of those as well. These tools could be a product that you and your team have created, an instructional video or book, even a procedure that is in place. Don't let money slip through the cracks either. Determine now whether you have enough to reach the goal you've set. 

Don't forget about that which motivates you. Motivation is a resource that is as valuable as any of the others. What motivates you or your employees or your partners? And finally, be sure to list your own personal characteristics. Any talents that you possess that will help you meet your goal should be listed as well.
4. Ecology
In Neuro Linguistic Programming there is the study of ecology. The ecology of a person is simply the relationship between that person and his or her environment. According to Joseph O'Connor in The NLP Workbook: 

"Many personal and organizational changes fail because the system boundary is drawn to narrowly and the 'side-effects' turn out to be major headaches."

So, how does your desired outcome fit in with the world around you? Who else is affected by this goal and the hunt for it? Will this goal affect them emotionally or physically and if so, how? 

Is it worth giving up your current situation for? Perhaps your company has attained a level of financial security. Is it worth jeopardizing that in order to acquire a couple of new clients that may or may not provide significant future income?

And what else will you lose while trying to acquire your goal. This is your opportunity cost. Simply put, your opportunity costs is what you gave up in Choice A by taking Choice B. For example, if you decide to buy an expensive telephone network for your company, your opportunity cost might be the less expensive, outsourced phone service and the ability to provide extra training with the surplus of funds. In other words, you've lost out on training, at the expense of your choice.

Finally, pay attention to the things that could happen once you attain your goal. Many companies have attained the success they wanted, only to be forced to close up shop when they couldn't meet demand. 

5. Does the outcome keep within your company identity?
This is simple. It is also often overlooked. If you are a company that cares about the environment, then it may behoove you to not hire the disposal company that has been cited for improper disposal techniques, despite how inexpensive their service might be.

6. Next steps?

So, what are the next steps? It's a simple question that many companies fail to answer. "If you build it, they will come" only works in the movies. Creating a goal does not make it happen automatically. What are you going to do to make it happen? If you don't have your next steps in mind then you run the risk of not starting at all

This doesn't have to be super detailed, and you don't have to lay out your entire plan from now until eternity. But, you should know your next steps. E.L. Doctorow has famously said, "Writing is like driving a car at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." 

This applies to nearly everything in life. You need to know where you're going, have an idea how to get there, and know the next few steps ahead of you!

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